The Rev. Michael K. Jones, a pastor, radio host and the son of the late civil rights leader Sam Jones, died unexpectedly Tuesday morning.
Jones, 52, had just taken over the time slot of longtime WTLC-AM 1310 radio host Amos Brown after his own death of a heart attack last November at age 64. The Progressive Baptist Church pastor started in March as the permanent host of the radio station’s afternoon show. Jones also died of an apparent heart attack.
At the time, Jones told IBJ that “there’s no replacing Amos Brown.” But the popular Jones had been one of the few people that Brown would call on when he went on vacation.
“You just kind of come behind him,” Jones told IBJ at the time. "I don’t intend to be Amos because I can’t be, but I want to bring the same passion for this community."
Born and raised in Indianapolis, Jones was a graduate of Park Tudor School who went on to Harvard University to study economics. He earned his bachelor’s degree there before returning to Indianapolis and earning his master's of divinity from Christian Theological Seminary.
Mayor Joe Hogsett confirmed the “sudden passing” of Jones in a news release Tuesday, saying he was shocked and saddened by it.
Hogsett said he was “continually reminded of [Jones’] dedication to our community through his work at Progressive Baptist Church and recently, as host of 'Community Conversations.' In this difficult time, Steph and I have Prethenia, Sam Jr., Marya, and the entire Jones family in our thoughts and prayers.”
Indianapolis Urban League President and CEO Tony Mason said Jones was always willing to make a "constructive action,” whether it was getting involved in city government, registering to vote, and taking care of your health.
Just last month, Jones brought his broadcast to the Sam H. Jones Center at the Urban League, a building named after Jones’ father, for National HIV and AIDS testing day. He drew a record turnout to the event.
Mason said that is an example of his commitment to getting out into the community and “connecting and advocating for people from all walks of life.”
“He had a very special way of being able to engage and to help young people,” Mason said. “He was a strong advocate for accountability from our city government, from business, from the media. He was a believer in equality of opportunity, and equity was important to him."
Mason said the Indianapolis community is experiencing a “tough moment,” especially given that Jones and Brown, two powerful advocates for the black community, have passed away in less than a year.
“The community should respond by doing what Amos and Michael called on: getting involved,” Mason said. “Neither one of them can be replaced, but we know there will be another voice."